In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English

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This engaging book traces the history, archaeology, and legends of ancient Ireland from 9000 B.C., when nomadic hunter-gatherers appeared in Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age-to 1167 A.D., when an Anglo-Norman invasion brought the country under control of the English crown for the first time. So much of what people today accept as ancient Irish history-Celtic invaders from Europe turning Ireland into a Celtic nation; St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland and converting its people to Christianity-is ...
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In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English

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Overview

This engaging book traces the history, archaeology, and legends of ancient Ireland from 9000 B.C., when nomadic hunter-gatherers appeared in Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age-to 1167 A.D., when an Anglo-Norman invasion brought the country under control of the English crown for the first time. So much of what people today accept as ancient Irish history-Celtic invaders from Europe turning Ireland into a Celtic nation; St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland and converting its people to Christianity-is myth and legend with little basis in reality.

The truth is more interesting. The Irish, as the authors show, are not even Celtic in an archaeological sense. And there were plenty of bishops in Ireland before a British missionary called Patrick arrived. But In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are ancient sites and folk customs that provide tangible links to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places, talking to a wide variety of historians, archeologists and language scholars, in the very settings where history happened. Thus the book is also a journey on the ground to uncover ten thousand years of Irish identity. It is all here, from the Celtic culture to the rise of the uniquely Irish Christian spirituality to the final chapter which deals with the complex events that lead to the English invasion of the island.

In Search of Ancient Ireland is the official companion to the PBS series of the same name.

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Editorial Reviews

The Bookwatch
...A clearly recommended pick for anyone interested in an updated, scholarly research tool covering the latest truths about Irish history.... Provides an important gateway to understanding early Irish roots.
Irish Connections
Journeys across the centuries to explore fabled Erin's remarkable past and uncover the real story behind the island nation's rich global legacy.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
In bite-sized morsels that accommodate the busy lives of modern readers Search tells us about both the major figures central to momentous events and the daily lives of commoners.
Library Bookwatch
As much as can be excavated or deduced of ancient history is superbly featured with a wealth of fine detail in this fascinating and highly readable resource.
Bostonirish.com
...An illuminating look at the new finds and scholarship and their place in Ireland's past.... The deft and meticulously researched prose...brings ancient Ireland to vivid life.
Carroll County Times
A great story, interesting to read and appealing to anyone with an interest in Ireland...A readable history...poignant, not pedantic.
— Virigina Garnett
Lawrence J. McCaffrey
Well-written...informative...new and fascinating material challenging many myths.
The New York Observer - Terry Golway
Your search for the roots of Irish history and culture begins here, with this marvelous book.
Bostonirish.Com
...An illuminating look at the new finds and scholarship and their place in Ireland's past.... The deft and meticulously researched prose...brings ancient Ireland to vivid life.
Carroll County Times - Virigina Garnett
A great story, interesting to read and appealing to anyone with an interest in Ireland...A readable history...poignant, not pedantic.
Carroll County Times - Virginia Garnett
A great story, interesting to read and appealing to anyone with an interest in Ireland...A readable history...poignant, not pedantic.
Lawrence J. McCafferey
Well-written...informative...new and fascinating material challenging many myths. (Lawrence J. McCafferey, Emeritus Professor Of History, Loyola University Of Chicago)
Terry Golway
Your search for the roots of Irish history and culture begins here, with this marvelous book.
New York Observer
Irish Connections
The excellent...new book...journeys across the centuries to...uncover the real story behind the island nation's rich global legacy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561310722
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 10/15/2002
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter One THE FIRST IRISH
Chapter Two THE AGE OF BRONZE
Chapter Three THE CELTIC CULTURE AND IRELAND
Chapter Four PAGAN CELTIC RELIGION AND LAWS
Chapter Five SAINT PATRICK - PATRON SAINT OF THE IRISH
Chapter Six THE RISE OF CELTIC SPIRITUALITY
Chapter Seven SAINTS AND SCRIBES
Chapter Eight IRISH MONASTERIES & SCHOLARS
Chapter Nine RAIDERS FROM THE SEA
Chapter Ten VIKING KINGS IN DUBLIN
Chapter Eleven BRIAN BORU, EMPEROR OF THE IRISH
Chapter Twelve HOW THE ENGLISH CAME TO IRELAND
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2003

    I can't say enough about this book!

    I really love this book. In fact, I am buying it as a Christmas gift for a number of people in my family. It is well written and very informative. It contains so much that is interesting - from the original settles in Ireland, to the monastic families to the reason why the English invaded in the twelfth century. I do not know of any other book which gives this information in a format that is clear and easy to understand. I had this book as a text book in a class that I took and I just loved it. I even read it in bed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    An Irish Book of Genesis

    In "In Search of Ancient Ireland," Carmel Mc Caffrey and Leo Eaton have written what is essentially an Irish 'Book of Genesis' that is particularly compelling for Irish of the diaspora who often wonder about their roots. The imagery of the songs and stories we've heard from parents and grandparents are about lost causes and loved ones, the intensely emotional ties of family and place. But true (and literally, radical) identity only comes with long memory, a far reach into the past that makes some sense of who we are now. This book goes a long way in supplying that tribal memory. It is a happy combination of good, current historical scholarship written in very accessible prose. It helps us reassess accepted notions such as the 'Celtic invasion' of Ireland and it contains many pleasant surprises. The St. Patrick we thought we knew, for instance, is very quietly stripped of his imposing Roman vestments, miter, and crosier and what emerges is a very gentle man, a dreamer who never got over his love for the Irish. He is described as returning to Ireland to forge a blend of the Christian and ancient spiritualities that was indeed something new. What may also be a surprise for some is the emphasis McCaffrey and Eaton place on the Irish genius for applied technology. They were sophisticated astronomers, the goldsmiths of Europe, the publishers of intricately artistic manuscripts. The director of the national museum is quoted as saying of the Ardagh chalice and its finely wrought gold and bronze that it was "...a technique that originated in the Roman world and was perfected and developed here by the Irish." Another Roman import that gets a thorough analysis in this book is Christianity. It is a sad part of the story, in a way, because, as the chapter "Irish Monasteries and Scholars" points out, the Irish forged an absolutely original expression of Christian life in their "monastic" settlements. Families lived and worked together, community was based on negotiated arrangements, not on imposed regulation, and scholarship and preservation of classic texts was a sacred responsibility. That world died as this book ends. But as you close this book you realize that what did not die is the Irish capacity to resurrect its genius again and again just when it is needed the most.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2003

    Lyrical prose, excellent storytelling, well researched.

    This is not your average history book in that the story of ancient Ireland flows off the pages and reads like an ancient tale. The writers take us to the top of pagan ritual mounds and inside ancient caves, crawling through dark passageways. They visit monasteries where the residents have long since vanished but the ghosts of the past remain to haunt and remind us of an Ireland that once was noble and classical in its learning. When Europe entered its Dark Age, Ireland and the Irish were there to bring the light of scholarship back. I loved reading this book and felt as if I had gone back in time and that the past was alive again. An Irish past that I did not even realize existed! Different characters jumped off the pages to almost tell their own stories ¿ St. Patrick, Brian Boru, and even the Vikings take on a real form and the research into the period is excellent, dispelling myths and giving the correct sources. I loved the quotes from the ancient Irish annals. This book is an excellent source book for everything you want to know about ancient Ireland. It made me proud of my Irish ancestry

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2002

    Best Book on ancient Ireland

    This book is a great read and contains fascinating new information on Irish pre-history and early history. There is much that is new here [including the fact that the Irish did NOT have a Celtic invasion] and the authors have given me a lot of new insight into this period of Irish history. Of all the books that I have read on ancient Irish history this one was the best researched.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2002

    excellent scholarship, beautifully written, easy to read.

    A most welcome addition to Irish history literature! Ms. McCaffrey's prose is sharp & concise, drawing in & taking hold of the reader as she reports from the sites of Ireland's most famous ruins. This book is unique in that the author's accurate descriptions of the sites are but a starting point for sharing the most up to date research of the most respected scholars (who accompany her on location) of the various periods. The book starts as far back as is known about Irish history, an incredible 100,000 BC & before, & takes the reader up to the coming of the English in the 12th century. Especially good are details of Patrick's first wanderings & spreading of Christianity; monastic culture, which is given a new examination & is revealed as more than a life of prayer & seculsion--it is a vibrant center that permeates all aspects of Irish community. McCaffrey's sections on the Viking invasions are told with a freshness, especially as she examines the logistics of these sea & inlet operations. If want the next best thing to visiting these magical places & to become well versed in Irish history up to 1171, this is the book for you. Highest rating! (When's the sequel?)

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